In a profession still dominated by men, these power players have taken a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling to grab their place among the elite of the Washington bar.
A time will arrive, perhaps soon, when singling out lawyers by gender will seem wholly unnecessary. Unfortunately, we're not there yet. Don't buy it? Try answering this question: How many major law firms can you name that are run by women — ditto practice groups, corporate law departments, advocacy groups, public agencies? Some of them? Certainly. Half? Not even close. Barriers have fallen and continue to do so, and the lawyers on our list of Washington's Most Influential Women have career paths that any lawyer — male or female — would envy. These are power players, and they were selected by the editors of The National Law Journal for work that places them in an elite tier. We are recognizing their work, their influence and the fact that they may have had to work a bit harder than many of their male colleagues to get where they are today. Here's to the day when that won't be necessary. — David L. Brown, editor in chief
The U.S. government spends more than $500 billion a year on goods and services, excluding war spending. For more than 20 years, Mayer Brown partner Marcia Madsen has helped her clients tap that gusher. Madsen — one of the few prominent women in an area dominated by men, many of whom are ex-military — handles everything from contract negotiations to disappointed-bidder litigation for companies such as General Motors Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. She scored a coup in 2007 when the Government Accountability Office overturned a contract worth upwards of $10 billion to replace the Air Force's aging search-and-rescue helicopters, which had been awarded to Boeing Co. The successful bid protest opened the door for Madsen's client, Lockheed Martin Corp., to potentially snag the project. Madsen has also had a guiding hand in improving the system overall. She chaired the 13-member Acquisition Advisory Panel from 2005 to 2007, which was tasked by Congress to find ways to make federal contracting more competitive, efficient and transparent. Most of the panel's more than 80 major recommendations have since been adopted via statute. "It was an important role for her to play," said Allan Burman, the president of consultancy Jefferson Solutions and a panel member. "Our panel's report more or less set the agenda for Congress." — Karen Sloan